Vietnam War Overview


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Brief overview of the Vietnam War

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Vietnam War Overview

  1. 1. VietnamRolling Thunder to the Fall of Saigon
  2. 2. Rolling Thunder• McGeorge Bundy – best way to prove USA would defend south was to bomb the north• March 1965 – started, targeted bridges, highways, railroads, airfields, factories, power plants, and fuel depots• Johnson halted the bombings many times, hoped Communists would ask for peace but they wouldn’t• Dropped more than 643,000 tons avoided major population areas
  3. 3. Ho Chi Minh Trail• Network of trails that supplied the Communist troops• Started in Hanoi and went through Cambodia and Laos and then to the South• Jungles covered the trail from Allied bombing attacks• Large network of underground tunnels including barracks and hospitals• All supplies were moved by foot, bicycle and elephant• Grew to 12,500 miles
  4. 4. Napalm and Agent Orange• Government was determined to eliminate VC support in the countryside• Began to destroy the jungle and croplands using chemicals• Exposed tree-covered guerrilla bases and supply routes• Agent Orange: sprayed over large areas, 72 million litres of herbicides were sprayed, 60% Agent Orange – MAJOR long term effects to vegetation, wildlife and human beings• Napalm: incendiary that burned all it touched, cleared areas of land and burned for many hours afterwards
  5. 5. Central Highlands Struggle• Area between Cambodia and the sea was fought over during the entire war• US tried to prevent the Communists from reaching the sea and dividing the land• US Special Forces trained the Montagnards to fight for them• NVA troops were stealthy, chose areas to fight• Americans won most major engagements• Green Berets fought using guerrilla warfare tactics• Air Cav as well
  6. 6. Fighting• Hand to hand fighting determined the war• Communists had weapons from Soviets and Chinese (AK47)• Also had more primitive weapons – Booby traps – Re-used cartridges for explosive mines – Bouncing Betties• Americans had more advanced weapons (M16, M60)
  7. 7. Patrol• Walked in platoon or company sizes (20-100 men)• Go into areas known for Communist activity• Patrolled villages that needed protection• VC/NVA hid well, waited to strike• Purpose was for Recon or “search and destroy”
  8. 8. “Television War”• First war to be brought into the American homes• At first they supported the war, then military tricked the people into thinking it was going well• Many influential journalists, like Walter Cronkite, turned against the war• Atrocities made it home and heavily influenced public opinion
  9. 9. The Mekong Delta• Waterlogged area, “rice bowl”• Guerrilla stronghold throughout the war• Despite heavy fighting, VC held the Mekong for a majority of the war• Navy patrolled the areas heavily• VC had a network of underground living quarters on the islands
  10. 10. Villages• VC depended heavily on the villagers and threatened those who did not co-operate• US told the villagers not to aid them as well• Soldiers from both sides punished them for helping the opposition• Massacre at My Lai turned many Americans against the war – Herded more than 300 supposed VC supporters (men, woman and children) and shot them down – Many were saved when a US helicopter threatened to shoot the men – Military tried to cover it up but it didn’t work
  11. 11. Khe Sanh and Tet• January 21, 1968, communists surprised the US Marine base camp of Khe Sanh with a storm of artillery fire• January 30th, assaults began all over Southern Vietnam on the Vietnamese New Year, known as Tet• Attacked more than 100 cities and towns, even the middle of Saigon• Fighting lasted 4 weeks causing more casualties to the Communists
  12. 12. Prisoners of War (POW’s)• 660 US servicemen were taken as POWs• Some held for 9 years, others escaped• Many were abused, others tortured• All POWs were released but some 2,400 men still remain unaccounted for (MIA)• Thousands of Communists captured and sent to camps• Interrogated, usually with force, and organized• Many were killed by ARVN troops rather than taken prisoner• Exchanged at the end of the war
  13. 13. Antiwar Movement• By 1965 many Americans opposed the war• 20,000 marched on Washington• Started peacefully but demonstrations grew in size and anger• Famous figures who protested: MLK Jr., Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Jane Fonda• Universities: Berkley, Kent State (4 dead), Jackson State (2 dead)• Many Vietnam veterans also protested the war
  14. 14. U.S. Begins to Withdrawal• By 1969 543,000 American troops were in Vietnam• Nixon called for “Vietnamization” of the war – Train Southern Vietnamese troops to fight – Good fighters, poor commanders• Still difficult to withdrawal troops, bloody battles continued• U.S. soldiers mad at Nixon for sending them to fight near the end of the war• Hamburger Hill: Hill 937, lasted 10 days, 446 casualties, last major battle
  15. 15. Last Days of the War• 1970: mostly bombing campaigns• Started to bomb and attack Cambodia and Laos but were easily repelled• 1972: only 70,000 troops remained• “Spring Offensive” by NV was easily repelled by the ARVN
  16. 16. Christmas Bombing• Peace talks started but the North refused to acknowledge a split Vietnam• Nixon decided to bomb the North from Dec 18- 30, called “Linebacker”• It ruined industrial capacity and transportation• Communists accepted a cease-fire
  17. 17. Paris Peace Accords• January 27, 1973 an agreement was signed to end the war• All groups involved signed• US withdrew from Vietnam• Kissinger and Duc Tho were given Nobel Peace Prizes
  18. 18. Fall of Saigon• Congress cut funding for the war and the North advanced on the South• By March 1975 the troops were surrounding Saigon• President Ford was helpless, Saigon captured by April• Ended 30 continuous years of fighting
  19. 19. Aftermath• 58,000 American dead and 153,000 wounded• 1 mil Vietnamese soldiers and 4 mil civilians died• Socialist Republic of Vietnam formed• Land destroyed• Recovered well today, 84 million people, fastest growing economy in Asia